Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 1863 (Friday): Horse Thieves and Land Mines

General Gabriel Rains

August 19, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Decretary of War:
    SIR: In a conversation with Major Mosby, the partisan leader, I suggested to him the use of Rains' percussion torpedoes on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. He cordially approved of the suggestion, and requested me to write to you for a supply of the explosives in question. If, therefore, you concur with us in thinking that much damage may be done to the enemy by means of these bombs placed beneath the rails of that particular road, which is used exclusively for the transportation of troops and army supplies, you will confer a favor upon Major Mosby by ordering him to be supplied with them immediately.
   While writing, I take occasion to ask another favor of the Department, which is, to revoke the commission to raise a company, which, on my application, was granted some three months ago to Edward P. Castleman, of Clarke County. I do this also at Mosby's request, as I find from him tha Castlemen's conduct is not what I thought it would be when I recommended him to you for a command. He has not succeeded in raising a company, has only some 20 men under him, has failed to report to Mosby as he promised to do, and in the exercise of his own independent will has been committing depredations and taking horses from our own citizens. If Castleman's commission, as I presume it is a contingent one, be revoke, those with him can be added to our own army as conscripts. No news here. All quiet along the lines in front.
    I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

    A. R. BOTELER.

 P. S.- General Stuart suggests that some one acquainted with the use of the torpedoes be sent up    with them, as they are dangerous things in unskillful hands.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 653.

"Torpedoes" were actually forerunners of the modern land mine and were considered by many in both armies to be outside the bounds of civilized warfare.  It does not appear Mosby put them to any extensive use.  Boteler, the Governor of Virginia, appears here to have had second thoughts about a man he believed would be a good partisan officer, but appears to have been an even better horse thief. 

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